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Left Coast/ Right Coast: People and their Pets

I’ve found that there are basically two types of people regarding pets. One type absolutely ascribes human like behavior to their pets. The second type merely or simply accommodates a pet.
Mike Gold living the dream in the Pacific Northwest. Photo credit: Nancy Gold.

By Mike Gold, a retired entrepreneur "living the dream in the Pacific Northwest."

I’ve found that there are basically two types of people regarding pets. One type absolutely ascribes human like behavior to their pets. This is called anthropomorphism. Man has been doing this type of behavior for thousands of years. The second type merely or simply accommodates a pet.

For many adults, having a cat can be simply having an animal in the house that will catch mice and/or rats. If you live anywhere in a metropolitan area, you will have both creatures living nearby.

I had one friend who lived fairly “out in the country.” Her cat would catch mice, in particular, and bring them “live” back to the owner as a sort of gift. The cat would simply drop the live creature on her doorstep. (It’s not clear to me exactly what the cat expected the owner to do. Perhaps eat it – which is the normal routine for the cat.)

We had a cat when we lived in a second floor apartment with an outside fenced balcony. We kept the kitty litter box outside on the balcony floor – and we had a little “pet door” so the cat could access the box whenever it deemed necessary. One day we returned home to find several dozen pigeon feathers on the balcony floor. Then (yuck) we found a pigeon head. Clearly some wayward pigeon decided to land on the railing of the balcony. It was fortunate that our cat, clearly jumping up to grab the bird, did not fall two stories to the ground below. Unfortunately, pigeons carry lots of diseases. Our cat developed some blood disease several weeks later and we had to put the cat down.

We really liked that cat – and when we bought our first house, we started collecting them until we had four, two pure-breeds – Persian, and two alley cat types. Frankly, we did not notice any difference in the behavior of any of them. One of the “non-purebred” cats simply loved to snuggle with us in bed, often sleeping on one of our pillows. But, in general, they all behaved as cats are expected to do. They would not come when called, they would not normally like sitting on our laps while we pet them. Last, they did not seem to develop any particular attachments to either of us. (I then understood the expression: “It’s like trying to herd cats.”)

Now back to those of us who ascribe human like traits to our pets (especially dogs). If you’ve ever watched a commercial for the ASPCA about adopting a dog – which had probably been abandoned – to me when you look into the eyes of that animal, I think I can honestly see the depression in the dog’s eyes. (I’m not aware of any animal psychologist giving such a prognosis – your dog is depressed!) Most of the time, I simply can’t watch the commercial and change channels. Of course, the ASPCA is appealing to our humanity with such commercials – designed to stimulate donations. You know what, it works!

My wife started to breed dogs. Both Chinese Shar Peis, then English Bulldogs.

SharPeis became over-bred and the market price was very low. Not worth doing. Bulldogs, however, still can sell for $2000. Unfortunately, they tend to have small liters – perhaps two or three puppies. We still own a bulldog to this day. When our last bulldog developed problems even walking, we had to put her down. She was eight years old. I cried like a baby. We were that attached to that dog.

There are Pet Cemeteries all over this country. Some owners spend thousands of dollars on the burial and homage to the animal over the next years.

Last interesting thing about pets. Many people use pets as “comfort animals.” The problem is when they wish to travel with their comfort pet. Most airlines have rules about this, but that doesn’t stop travelling passengers with a comfort animal from making a huge stink if they can’t bring theirs along. I’ve read about people who have miniature horses as comfort animals. Also, parrots, foxes, zebras, snakes, sheep, and just about any animal you can imagine. Most airlines publish what comfort animals they allow on a flight.

Frankly, I would not want to be on any flight, which allowed a miniature horse or a zebra to be in the seat next to me.

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